Kodak Brownie Junior 620, 13 September 2011


Isn’t it fun what you can do with a simple box camera?

BrownieJr620 CHI PanF+ MarinaCity01B

BrownieJr620 CHI PanF+ NorthLoop01B

Photo Information:

Location: Chicago, Illinois; River North
Camera: Kodak Brownie Junior 620
Lens: Unnamed Integral Kodak
Film: Ilford PanF+ (620)

The subject of the first photo is the lower part of the west tower at Marina City (completed in 1967 and designed by Bertrand Goldberg Associates); unlike the upper residential floors, whose rows of semi-circular balconies led to the towers being called the “Corn Cob Towers”, the lower parking decks are laid out as a smooth concrete spiral. The incorporation of the parking spaces as part of the tower, as opposed to being a separate structure (or a surface lot – look at photos of Marina City under construction…there was plenty of space around the towers for a surface lot or two) has no doubt contributed to the towers continued residential success; anyone who has tried to find parking in the Loop will appreciate designated partking. The second photo is a view of the south end of the Mag Mile at Michigan & Wacker; I’ve listed the buildings before, so I won’t go through that routine again. I almost decided against keeping this scan, since the image is a bit motion-blurred – even under ideal circumstances, getting a sharp photo isn’t always easy, as the shutter release is a lever (as opposed to a button), so it’s not hard to twist the camera while taking a shot. Combined with the relatively slow shutter speed, it means that I need to be somewhat careful when I take photos with the camera. OTOH, given its inception as a simple snapshot camera for the masses, many of the photos folks would’ve shot with cameras such as this were likely not “perfect” shots, either.

And no, I’m not kidding when I say that anyone (including you – yes, you) could take photos like these (sorta) with this camera. It’s not difficult to obtain one (mine cost about 25 USD on EBay, but you’ll need to find one that takes either 120 or 620 film, as no one makes any of the other formats anymore), and the camera was designed to be as simple as possible: only two shutter speed settings (“instant” and bulb), no lens focusing required, and simple film advance…yup. Real difficult to use, there. Okay, so there’s something to be said for my choice of subject matter, composition, and film, but well. That part depends on what you’re trying to capture.



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